Criminal organizations and mafia groups are increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies

Criminal organizations and mafia groups are increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies - agent dia 1024x604Mafia groups and criminal organizations are increasingly using cryptocurrencies, according to the Italian Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA), an Italian anti-Mafia police force that spoke to German outlet Zeit Online.

"All criminal organizations, including mafia-type ones, have an interest in using these tools for their business," a spokesperson for the DIA told Zeit Online. For his personal safety, the spokesperson would not have been identified.

Cryptocurrencies would be used to buy drugs

The DIA also recently released a report covering organized crime in Italy during the first six months of 2020, the latest period from which the data was drawn.

"Ndrangheta, the strongest and most powerful criminal syndicate in the country, is becoming increasingly attuned to modern tools such as cryptocurrency and the deep web," the DIA said in the report.

The report added that cryptocurrencies are used to anonymously pay for synthetic drugs like Ecstasy or LSD, a trade that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This isn't the first time cryptocurrencies and the dark web have been used to facilitate crime. In fact, in 2020, dark web providers made more money than ever.

Cryptocurrency and dark web

A report from Chainalysis found that while dark web markets were decreasing in number, revenue was increasing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"While total darknet market revenue has already surpassed the 2019 totals, the overall number of purchases and even prospective customers have dropped significantly, although the remaining purchases are for higher values," Chainalysis said last December.

The increase in revenue was measured with cryptocurrencies that included Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and Tether, in support of the claims of the Italian Anti-Mafia Directorate.

Ingo Fiedler, a co-founder of the Blockchain Research Lab, suggested that the data showed that illicit crypto finance is increasingly becoming the task of sophisticated criminals, much like the mafia groups and organized crime organizations described by the DIA.

“Only the most sophisticated can now blur their tracks. This prevents small retailers from participating in the market and a natural trend towards fewer larger retailers in those markets, ”Fiedler told Decrypt at the time.